Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines: The Definitive Success Guide

Learn how to play by Amazon's rules and publishing guidelines so you don't strike out!

Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines: The Definitive Success Guide
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Most people go into self-publishing because there are fewer rules about where, when, and how you can share your ideas with the world than if you were to go through the traditional route. But Amazon is still responsible for making its customers happy, so they've set some guidelines to prevent self-publishing from turning into the Wild Wild West. This is a good thing because it cuts down on scammers, fraudsters, and just all-around low-quality content. And the even better news is that these guidelines are all pretty straightforward.

In this definitive guide, we'll walk you through the steps you need to take to successfully follow Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines. We'll cover everything from formatting your manuscript to choosing the right cover design, and we'll provide you with tips and tricks along the way to help make the process as smooth as possible. Whether you're a first-time publisher or a seasoned pro, this guide has everything you need to know to publish your book on KDP and start building your readership.

If dealing with compliance and trying to figure it all out on your own sounds like a headache, check out our KDP pro course. The modules walk you through the specific publishing guidelines to keep in mind at every single step in the process, from writing, formatting, editing, and marketing your future bestseller.

Setting Up Your Amazon KDP Account

Before you can start publishing your book on Amazon Kindle, you need to set up your free KDP account. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

  1. Create an Amazon Account: If you already have an Amazon account, skip this step. If not, go to www.amazon.com and click on "Create your Amazon account" to set one up. You will need to provide your name, email address, and a secure password.
  2. Sign Up for KDP: Once you have an Amazon account, go to KDP and click on "Sign up." Follow the prompts to create your KDP account. You will need to provide your author and payment information, as well as your tax information (so you can get paid!).
  3. Set Up Your Author Profile: After you've created your KDP account, you can set up your author profile. This is where you can add your bio, profile photo, and links to your website and social media accounts. To set up your author profile, go to "Account" and click on "Author." (And yes, you can use a pen name).
  4. Upload Your Book: Once your account is set up, you can upload your book to KDP. Follow the instructions to upload your manuscript, cover, and other book details. KDP supports multiple languages, so make sure to check the list of supported languages before you upload your book.
  5. Review and Publish Your Book: After you've uploaded your book, review the details to make sure everything is correct. You can preview your book to see how it will look on Kindle devices. Once you're ready, click on "Publish Your Kindle eBook" to make your book available for sale on Amazon. This will automatically trigger Amazon's review process, and you'll be sent an email when your book goes live.

It may take up to 72 hours for KDP to publish your book and for it to be available for sale on Amazon.

What Is Not Allowed on Amazon KDP?

Here are some things that are not allowed on Amazon KDP:

Illegal or Infringing Content

Amazon KDP does not allow the publication of illegal or infringing content. This includes pirated content, counterfeit products, and items that violate intellectual property rights. If you publish such content, Amazon can remove your book and close your account, and you may even face legal action with a third party who deems your work as "stolen" or infringing upon their own.

Offensive Content

This one seems the most like common sense, but it's still worth mentioning.

Amazon KDP does not allow the publication of any overly offensive content. This includes content that promotes hate speech, violence, or discrimination against individuals or groups. Additionally, Amazon KDP does not allow the publication of pornographic or sexually explicit content.

Poor Customer Experience

Most people have nothing to worry about with the first two guidelines. Even this one shouldn't be an issue if you take quality control seriously throughout the publishing process, but statistically, it's probably the most common offense that self-publishers make.

Amazon KDP does not allow the publication of books that provide a poor customer experience. This includes books that are poorly formatted, contain a large number of errors, or have low-quality images. And customers WILL let you know their true thoughts in your book reviews.

Even if publishing a scrappy book makes you a couple thousand dollars, it's never worth breaking the readers' trust and risking an account ban.

Read Rasmus Mikkelsen's warning about low-quality content in an exclusive interview on his self-publishing mistakes here.

Public Domain Content

Amazon KDP does not allow the publication of public domain content that has been copied or reproduced without permission, but it DOES allow public domain content, as long as you can prove that it is indeed publicly available.

A public domain book is a book that is not covered by intellectual property rights or copyright. Once a book enters the public domain, it can be reprinted and distributed without having to get permission from the original owner. The new work must also be differentiated from any other available versions on the Amazon platform.

Differentiated works are original and must meet one or more of these requirements:

  • Translated: Original, quality translations
  • Annotated: Original, quality content like study guides, critiques, biographies, or historical context
  • Illustrated: 10+ original illustrations relevant to the book

How to Report Violations

As self-publishers, we all have a duty to uphold the integrity of our industry. If you come across any content on Amazon KDP that violates the content guidelines, you can report it to Amazon. Amazon takes violations of its guidelines seriously and will take appropriate action to ensure that its platform remains a safe and secure place for customers and publishers alike.

What Are the Kindle Direct Publishing Guidelines? A Breakdown

Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing guidelines are designed to help publishers, authors, and conversion houses make their content available for Kindle devices and applications. They include suggestions to ensure a smooth conversion and publication process.

That's a lot of technical jargon, so let's break it down. A "smooth conversion" on Amazon means someone buys your book and ends up being a happy reader by the time they make it to the back cover. And "conversion houses" are simply another way to describe publishing platforms and companies.

The Kindle Direct Publishing Guidelines cover a wide range of topics, including formatting, cover design, copyright, and metadata. It is crucial to follow these guidelines to ensure that your book is accepted for publication on the Amazon Kindle store. Failure to comply with these guidelines may result in your book being rejected or removed from the Kindle store entirely.

Here's the breakdown:

Formatting Guidelines

The formatting guidelines cover the technical aspects of preparing your Kindle book. They include information on file formats, fonts, margins, and spacing. Ultimately, this will ensure that your book is readable across all Kindle devices.

Pro Tip: Sometimes, it's best to hire a professional! If this step is giving you some trouble, don't be afraid to invest in some help. You can connect with a professional graphic designer or book formatter that's in your budget through platforms like Upwork and Fiverr.

Cover Design Guidelines

The cover of your book is the first thing that readers will see, so it needs to be eye-catching and professional while still remaining compliant. The cover design guidelines cover the technical aspects of creating a cover for Kindle, such as file format and size, as well as design tips to help you create a cover that stands out.

Pro Tip: Nowadays, an AI tool like Dall-E creates book covers in seconds. You might also need to plug them into a platform like Canva to do some slight editing, but these tools have made self-publishing on Amazon even quicker and easier than ever before.

Copyright and Legal Guidelines

The copyright guidelines cover the legal aspects of publishing your book on Kindle. They include information on copyright ownership, permissions, and infringement. You also cannot use trademarks without permission or in a way that suggests endorsement or affiliation. It is essential to follow these guidelines to ensure that your book is legally protected.

Pro Tip: You own the copyright to a book even if you decide to work with a ghostwriter. While submitting your copyright to the government office isn't required, it does afford you extra legal protections in the case someone ever plagiarizes or outright steals your work.

Metadata Guidelines

The metadata guidelines cover the information that appears on your book's detail page on Amazon Kindle. This includes the title, author name, description, and categories. Following these guidelines will help readers find your book and understand what it is about.

Pro Tip: Trying to stuff as many popular keywords as possible into your book details might not be the best idea. It goes against Amazon's rules! And if you think about it, it doesn't help the reader find the right book for them either.

Content Quality Guidelines

Your book must be well-written and free from errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It must also avoid everything from the list earlier in the blog.

Pro Tip: You can download the Grammarly plug-in for free to check your content for grammar and spelling errors. If you choose to upgrade your account to the premium version, you can even rewrite sentences at the click of a button.

AI Disclosure Guidelines

If you are using Artificial Intelligence to create content for your book, you must disclose this fact in your book description. Additionally, you must ensure that the generated content is of high quality and meets all of Amazon's other content guidelines.

AI-generated content is 100% AI and 0% human.

AI-assisted content is a combination of AI and human inputs with heavy human editing.

Both are allowed on Amazon but need to be disclosed upon uploading your book.

Pro Tip: In the near future, you'll be able to generate an entire compliant manuscript at the touch of a button. Head over to publishing.ai to get a preview!

Formatting Your eBook for Kindle

Formatting affects the visual appeal of your book and influences the way readers engage with your content. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing offers specific guidelines for formatting reflowable and fixed-layout eBooks.

Reflowable eBooks

Reflowable eBooks are the most common format used for Kindle books. They allow readers to adjust the font size and style, line spacing, and margins to their liking.

Here are some guidelines to follow when formatting a reflowable eBook for Kindle:

  • Use a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Use a font size of at least 12 points.
  • Use line spacing of at least 1.5.
  • Use a single space after periods.
  • Use page breaks, not section breaks, to separate chapters.
  • Use hyperlinks instead of footnotes or endnotes.
  • Use images sparingly and ensure they are high quality.

Fixed-Layout eBooks

Fixed-layout eBooks are used for books with complex layouts, such as children's books or cookbooks. They have a fixed page layout, which means readers cannot adjust the font size or style.

Here are some guidelines to follow when formatting a fixed-layout eBook for Kindle:

  • Use a high-resolution image for the cover.
  • Use images that are at least 300 DPI.
  • Use a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Use a font size of at least 12 points.
  • Use page breaks, not section breaks, to separate chapters.
  • Use hyperlinks instead of footnotes or endnotes.
  • Use images sparingly and ensure they are high quality.

Designing Your Book Cover

Your book cover is the first thing that potential readers will see, and first impressions matter. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing offers a few options for designing your cover, including Cover Creator and uploading your own cover image.

Using Cover Creator

Cover Creator is a tool provided by KDP that allows you to create a cover for your book using pre-made templates. You can choose from a variety of designs and customize the layout, colors, and fonts to your liking. That being said, the templates are pretty limited, so you may not be able to achieve the exact look you want.

If you're using Cover Creator, make sure to follow the Image Guidelines provided by KDP. These guidelines include specific requirements for image size, resolution, and file type. You should also use supported SVG tags and elements when designing your cover, as recommended by KDP.

(This is just a fancy way of saying make sure you download your files in the correct format).

Uploading Your Own Cover Image

If you prefer to design your own cover, you can upload your own image to KDP. This gives you more flexibility in terms of design but still requires you to follow the Image Guidelines provided by KDP.

You can use any number of tools to create the perfect cover, including Dall-e, Midjourney, and Canva, or you can connect with a freelance designer to take it off your plate.

Pro Tip: Optimize your cover for full-screen viewing on various devices. This means that the image should be high-resolution and visually appealing, even when viewed on smaller screens.

Book Cover Design Tips

Whether you're using Cover Creator or designing your own cover, here are some tips to consider:

  • Don’t Go Overboard: A cluttered cover can be overwhelming and unappealing. Stick to a simple design that highlights the title, author name, and primary subject.
  • Be Genre-Appropriate: Your cover should reflect the genre of your book. For example, a romance novel cover should look different from a horror novel cover.
  • Use High-Quality Images: The cover image should be high-resolution as opposed to stretched, pixilated, or distorted.
  • Think About Typography: The font you choose for the title and author name can have a big impact on the overall look of the cover. Choose a font that is easy to read and fits the tone of your book.

Creating a Compelling Book Description

Your book description is one of the most important elements of your book's page on Amazon. It's the first thing potential readers will see, and it can make or break their decision to buy your book. When you write a good book description, it should be clear, concise, and compelling.

Here are some tips that may help:

  • Use the KISS Method. Keep it short and simple. It's not a book report! Amazon has a limit of 4000 characters, so use them wisely. You don't need to give away every detail of the story. Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and bold text to break up the description and make it easier to read.
  • Set the Stage. Just because you have to be concise doesn't mean your book description has to be boring. Use descriptive language to help readers visualize the story you've created. If your book is set in a specific time or place, make sure to mention it. If your book can help them transform, talk about the wonderful end result they can expect. This will help readers connect with your story and characters.
  • Consider a Series Name. If this book is going to be part of an installment, think about what you might want to call the series so that all the individual titles flow well together.

Optimizing Your Book Details

When it comes to publishing your book on Amazon Kindle, optimizing your book details is crucial to getting noticed by potential readers. Here are some tips to help you optimize your book details:

Use Relevant Keywords

Keywords are the terms that readers use to search for books on Amazon, and using the right keywords in your book details can help your book show up in search results. Make sure to include relevant keywords in your book title, subtitle, and book description.

Create an Engaging Book Description

Your cover and book description will ultimately determine whether a potential reader actually buys your book. Include your book title, subtitle, author name, and any other relevant information that will entice readers to click on your book. You can also use formatting such as bold, italic, and bullet points to make your book page more visually appealing.

Provide Accurate Book Details

Make sure to provide accurate book details in your book description, including the book's genre, target audience, and any other relevant information. This will help readers understand what your book is about and whether it's the right fit for them.

You should also include a table of contents (TOC) to make it easier for readers to navigate your book. Make sure your TOC is accurate and includes all the relevant sections of your book.

Pricing Your Kindle eBook and Paperback

Pricing your Kindle eBook and paperback is an important aspect of publishing your book on Amazon. Setting the right price can help you maximize your book's sales and earnings. 

Here are some guidelines to help you price your book effectively.

List Price

The list price is the price at which your book will be listed on Amazon. Amazon has specific requirements for the minimum and maximum list price for each royalty plan.

eBook Royalty Rates

Amazon offers two royalty plans for eBooks: 35% royalty and 70% royalty. The 70% royalty plan is only available for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Books priced outside of this range are subject to the 35% royalty plan. Another tidbit to remember is that the 70% royalty rate is calculated based on the list price minus the applicable delivery fee or VAT tax.

Paperback Royalty Rates

Amazon offers a fixed 60% royalty rate for paperbacks sold on Amazon. The royalty is calculated based on the list price minus printing costs. The printing costs vary depending on the page count, ink type, and trim size of your book. You can try our KDP book royalty calculator to estimate your printing costs and earnings.

Understanding Royalty Payments and Rights

When you publish your book through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, you are entitled to receive royalty payments for every sale made. Royalties are the amount of money that you, as an author, receive from Amazon for each sale of your book. The royalty rates vary based on the price of your book, the royalty plan you choose, and the country in which your book is sold.

To receive royalty payments, you need to set up your payment information in your KDP account. You can choose to receive payments through direct deposit or wire transfer. Direct deposit is the preferred method of payment, as it is faster and more reliable than wire transfer.

Amazon KDP also has a minimum threshold for royalty payments. This means that you need to earn a certain amount of royalties before you can receive payment. The minimum threshold for direct deposit is $1, while the minimum threshold for wire transfer is $100.

As an author, you also have certain rights when you publish your book through KDP. You retain the publishing rights to your book and can choose to publish it elsewhere if you wish. However, if you choose to enroll your book in KDP Select, you grant Amazon exclusive rights to distribute your book in digital format for a period of 90 days.

Marketing Your Book on Amazon

If you've made it this far, congrats! You successfully published your book on Amazon Kindle! Now, you need to market it to reach a wider audience. Fortunately, Amazon provides several tools to help you market your book effectively.

KDP's Promotional Tools

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing offers a number of promotional tools for self-published authors. These tools can help you reach a wider audience and boost your book sales. Some of the promotional tools offered by KDP include:

  • Kindle Countdown Deals: This tool allows you to run a limited-time promotion where your book is available at a discounted price.
  • KDP Select: This program allows you to enroll your book in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. Enrolling in KDP Select also gives you access to promotional tools such as Free Book Promotions and Kindle Countdown Deals.
  • KDP Select Global Fund Promotions: This program allows you to earn a share of the KDP Select Global Fund when readers borrow your book from Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

Don't Forget the Power of Social Media

You can use social media to drive more traffic to your book's Amazon page by posting about your book on various social media channels and launching campaigns. You can also work with social media influencers to spread the word about your book.

Marketing and Advertising Laws

It is important to follow marketing and advertising laws when promoting your book on Amazon. This includes disclosing any material connections between you and any endorsers or reviewers of your book. You should also avoid making exaggerated or false claims about your book, such as calling it a "bestseller" in the title.

Benefits of Using KDP

In addition to publishing your book as an eBook on Kindle Direct Publishing, there are other options available to you. Depending on your goals and budget, you may want to consider the following:

Print-On-Demand

If you want to offer a physical copy of your book, you can use Amazon's print-on-demand service. This means that copies of your book will only be printed when someone orders it, so you don't have to worry about upfront printing costs or storing inventory. Amazon's print-on-demand technology ensures that your book will always be available for purchase.

Global Markets

Kindle Direct Publishing allows you to publish your book in multiple countries, which means that you can reach a global audience. Amazon has a presence in many countries around the world, so you can take advantage of its global reach to expand your readership.

Meet the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines Experts

The AI Publishing Academy couldn't have helped its students collectively generate over $50 million without understanding the Amazon Kindle publishing guidelines inside and out.

Beginning your publishing journey is as easy as checking out this webinar. Here, you'll discover all the features and specifications of making money with Amazon by plugging into a multi-billion-dollar market, even as a beginner.

The Mikkelsen Twins have been open about their self-publishing mistakes, and they've made it their mission to help you master the publication process without any of the same headaches they encountered.

They've also proven that ditching the 9-5 for good is more than possible for anyone.

Why not see what this whole publishing thing is about and what it could do for you? 

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